Posts Tagged ‘razor’

Review of Gillette Fatboy Razor From Late 1950s

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010
Gillette Fatboy With Case And Blades

Gillette Fatboy With Case And Blades

I bought a 1950s Gillette Fatboy razor about a month ago, which cost me a relative fortune.  It came swiftly from an Ebay seller in the USA with blessings from god which was mildly spooky.  It was really well presented in an original box with some original Gillette blue steel blades still in the packet; it had been cleaned and disinfected and looked in great condition.

The Gillette Fatboy is a legend with an iconic status amongst many old style shavers like me.  I am now owner of an increasingly silly number of razors, including the Gillette Red and Blue Tips, plus now the Gillette Fatboy.  But would it live up to its awesome reputation?  The quick answer is yes, except for my only minor frustration with the shape of the classic Gillette razorhead.

Gillette Fatboy And Blue Steel Blades

Gillette Fatboy And Blue Steel Blades

The Gillette Fatboy weighs in at a heavy 80g, a full 14g heavier than the Gillette Red Tip.  It is, also, 85mm long, so 1.5cm longer than the Gillette Blue Tip and Red Tip razors.  The razorhead is the same, sleekly engineered butterfly action razorhead as in the Blue and Red Tips but the heavier weight makes for a much better balance and hand feel than these other razors.  The balance is perfectly poised for a great shaving action, bringing the razor to the face with excellent control, whereas the lightness of the Gillette Blue Tip, for example, forces the shaver to be a bit more cavalier with the blade. 

Gillette Fatboy Showing Butterfly Mechanism

Gillette Fatboy Showing Butterfly Mechanism

 The Gillette Fatboy is awesome and commands great respect, and has a sleek and masculine engineering that is more like a Harley Davidson or even a Dodge truck or rather than a fast car like a Porsche.

This advanced razor, also, gives you the ability to change the angle of the blade to suit your shaving action or you can tweak it and so have a tighter shave over the face and then loosen the blade as you go over your neck.  I have used it for a few weeks now and have settled on a setting of about 4, which seems to work all over the face.  The shave is close and precise, without any extra aggression despite the comments of many others.

Adjustable Head On Gillette Fatboy

Adjustable Head On Gillette Fatboy

My only complaint is simple and it is a fault of all the Gillette’s I have tried so far – the head is so big that you cannot get in close around the nose, so I need to use my original Gillette with a Contour blade to sort out the fine detail.  Similarly, the Gillette blue steel blades are period pieces but the blade is too flimsy and can make for an uncomfortable shave, so I prefer my normal Wilkinson Sword blades that have more strength.

Overall, this is a master of the shaving art, a really great piece of kit and worth the expense.

New Razors – Old Razors

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

I have been spending the last week  and a bit shaving with two new razors that I bought on Ebay.  They are Gillette Razors from the late 1950s – a Red Tip and a Blue Tip Super-Speed Razors.  Why, you might rightfully ask; well, with razors, Gillette is like your mother’s cooking in bakery comparisons, everyone always say “X is great but not like an old Gillette”.  So I reckoned that you needed to try an old Gillette to discover the truth in the statement.

Gillette Red Tip Razor From 1950s

Gillette Red Tip Razor From 1950s

They both look very stylish in a futuristic 1950s way like a Chevrolet El Camino, with sleek handles and decent designs on their handles that definitely improve the grip.  The handles are short at just over 7cm long, while the weights are a light 46g for the Blue Tip and a weighty 66g for the Red Tip.  I find the handles a tad on the small size for me, preferring the 9½cm handle of the Mühle razors, but that is a small price to pay for the really excellent balance on the Gillette Red Tip.  The Gillette Blue Tip, being much lighter but with the same razor head, is less well balanced. 

Gillette Superspeed Red Tip

Gillette Superspeed Red Tip

Gillette Superspeed Blue Tip Razor

Gillette Superspeed Blue Tip Razor

The beauty of these classic razors is in the engineering of the head.  Both razors have the same smooth finished, compact and well-organised and built butterfly razor system.  By twisting the tip, the razor mechanism starts moving through its complex set of synchronised moves, opening up elegantly, ready to take the blade.  It really is a dream to watch rather than the functional and clunky butterfly mechanism on the modern Parker razors (you can watch a quick video on Youtube of the mechamism by me following this link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqt–_P19YU).

Butterfly Mechanism On Gillette Red Tip Razor

Butterfly Mechanism On Gillette Red Tip Razor

I was mildy apprehensive when actually shaving with these two little beauties, as the Ebay seller had dubbed the Red Tip “the most aggressive razor ever”, but it was as deadly as a cute, little tabby cat.  The angle of the Wilkinson Sword double blades was just right, flowing smoothly over the face and handling well over the edge of the face down to the neck.  While a little large, the razor head worked decently around the nose.  Overall, I rated the Red Tip a really good shave, while the Blue Tip was too light in the hand so, even though the actual razor head was the same, I did not enjoy that shave so much.

So the crucial question, will I be changing my shave?  No, not yet but I will try and track down a Gillette Fatboy; for me the Mühle R89 still gives a closer, neater overall shave, but the Red Tip is a close second.  As for the blade mechanism, that is a true joy and is much more robust and better engineered than the Parker razors.  It really is a pity that Gillette has switched from being a razor maker to a blade manufacturer, changing from a creator of long-lasting icons to becoming the billboard of our throw-away, use-your-blade-a-few-times modern culture.

Razor Review From Steenbergs

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

For many years, I shaved with a Gillette safety razor that used a classic plastic double-bladed Contour disposable blade until mid 2009.  However, I did not find the shave particularly close or satisfying, and I didn’t like having to chuck the blades in the normal trash can.  So I have been on the hunt for a better shave that also might have less of an impact on the environment.

My first blind alley was on the environmentally friendly.  I looked at a disposable razor from Preserve, but they were disposable, cheap looking and they didn’t offer a special blade, so you were advised just to use the normal Gillette razor blades.  What a waste of time.

So I decided to go back to the start.  I have had my Gillette basic razor for over 25 years and it has served me well, while my dad has been using the same classic Gillette Safety razor for 60 years.  The razor itself, therefore, lasts and has no impact on the planet unless you buy disposables but they are a terrible shave, so I reckoned that perhaps I should spend some money on getting a really good razor that has been engineered well and looks good, shaves well and glides well over the face.  So the search began.

Let’s start with the Merkur Razors.  These are made in Germany by DOVO Solingen, look good and are generally really well engineered, just as you would expect from a German product.

Merkur Razors 34C and 42

Merkur Razors 34C and 42

I began with Merkur 34C which is a good-looking shiny, closed comb steel razor, with a heavy weight and relatively short handle at 76g and 8½cm resepectively.  The handle has a useful cross-harch design that is good for grip and the end twists to release the top of the razor head to enable you to place the razor blade easily onto it.  The blade is then screwed down simply using the twisting knob.  As a razor, I found the handle of the Merkur 34C just a bit too short, but that’s because I am used to a longer handled razor, but the balance was good and it moved over the face well to give a decent shave.  I found that the razor head seemed to stick on my skin a bit as it moved around which meant that I had to tug a little as I went along; I could imagine that this could cause cuts on a bad day or for those less used to wet shaving.  But overall, I liked the look, weight, balance and shave, although I do prefer a lighter razor with a longer handle.

Following on from this, I tried the Merkur 42.  This was lighter than the others at a mere 65g and with an 8½cm handle.  The design is a hexagon with a fancy design but none of this helps as the grip is less sure than the 34C and uncomfortable.  The blade mechanism is difficult, as you need to twist the whole handle and then the top of the razor head comes off, yet it all was quite stiff and laborious.  As for the shave, it was fine, sticking a little as you move the head over the face rather than gliding; I reckon this must be something to do with the angle of the blade, the distance of the blade from the comb on the razor head and the skin which is off a bit, or at least wrong for my face.  All in all not as good as the Merkur 34C, feeling and looking cheaper as if it was going for style over substance.

Then, there’s the Merkur Futur Razor which is a gorgeous beast of a razor – it’s the Porsche to the Vauxhall Astra that’s the Gillette Contour razor.  The Merkur Futur comes in at a heavy 119g with a 10½cm handle, designed with a futuristic, curvaceous style like the Guggenheim in Bilbao or the Aston Martin One-77, but hugely cheaper.  The mechanism is simple and neat to use, you just flip the lid and off comes the top of the razor head, so you can slot on a razor blade.  Next, there is a neat function where you can adjust the distance between blade and edge between settings from 1 – 6, giving much greater accuracy of the shave and the ability to change the shaving style to suit your own face and way of shaving.  At 6 more of the blade is exposed, down to 1 which has less blade exposed and gives a safer shave.  The Merkur Futur gives a great shave, but like a fast car, it’s not really a razor just to casually have a go with, as you are likely to cut yourself a few times; this is for someone who is experienced with a wet shave and wants a bit of luxury.

I have, also, tried the Mühle R89, which is a German made three piece razor that you twist apart and then place the razor into the parts.  The Mühle R89 weighs 67g and has a 9½cm handle.  The design is good looking with a well engineered German finish, that has a great feel to it as these razors are well balanced.  While the three piece razor top is fiddly, all the pieces fit together perfectly, resulting in the razor blade sitting really snugly on the razor head. For me, the handle was just right, with a good grip from the knurled handle and the weight & balance is good.  As for the shave, it was great, moving over the face very well and giving a good clean finish and not at all aggressive, feeling a bit like the classic Gillette Super Speed razor.  For me, it’s probably the best looking razor of the ones I am reviewing here and has become my favourite shave of all those razors that I have tested recently.  The Mühle R89 would be good as a starter wet shave razor and for those who have sensitive skin.

Muhle R89 Razor

Muhle R89 Razor

Next, it’s the turn of Parker Razors which have been manufactured in India by JTC since 1973.  They have a retro feel about them and are generally pretty well made, and the packaging has recently got better, looking less cheap and plasticky.  The two Parker Razors that I have tried are the 71R and 90R. 

The 71R looks good with a long matt black handle that’s 10½cm in length while the weight is 80g.  The mechanism is a safety razor head that twists off with the whole handle and then the comb and razor top.  Unfortunately, the balance of the razor is not good with it definitely swaying to the head, giving you less control in the movement of the razor head over the face.  The razor head glides over the face pretty well, but the actual shave is not very close and does not leave a great finish.  All-in-all the Parker 71R was not great.

However, the Parker 90R is a different matter all together.  The Parker 90R razor has a similar long handle at 10½cm, but is much lighter at 73g and is much better balanced, although still a bit top heavy.  What I really like about the Parker 90R is the razor blade mechanism, which is a butterfly mechanism that you twist the base of the razor’s handle and the top moves, then opens out, allowing you to simply place the razor blade on top of the razor head easily and safely.  The shaving action is similarly easy, gliding over your face, giving a decent smooth shave.  The distance between blade and razor and face is well proportioned meaning that even new wet shavers should be able to shave without too much hassle.  I had been shaving with the Parker 90R since I stopped using my trusty old Gillette Contour of 25 years, but have just switched to the Mühle R89 for everyday shaving.

Parker Razors 71R and 90R

Parker Razors 71R and 90R

So for now, Steenbergs is selling the Mühle R89 and Parker 90R razors as entry level razors for those just starting with wet shaving, while the Mühle R89 is also great for those who have more sensitive skin.  The Merkur Futur is for men who prefer a more aggressive shave and want to invest into something really heavy and flash.